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From Lawyer To Fine Jewelry Designer; Jemily Founder Talks Meaningful Gems

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Upon introduction, you can't help but take note of Catherine Marion's gentle demeanor and kind nature – a woman so sweet and soft-spoken that you probably wouldn't guess that the owner of Jemily fine jewelry is also a seasoned corporate finance attorney. But it was her rigorous journey as a finance attorney that brought Catherine to the realization that she was meant to design the most precious of personal ornaments and start her own business. Jemily, which is named after Catherine's two daughters – Emily and Jennifer, is a New York based fine jewelry brand known for it's timeless pieces with intricate designs and touches of colorful stones.


Catherine's love for jewelry first developed during her adolescent years as she inherited her grandmother's jewelry collection and began to possess an appreciation for the craftsmanship of intricate designs and precious stones and metals. Catherine explains that she has never been loyal to one specific jewelry brand just that her love for the art of jewelry runs deep and has always held a special spot in her life. This spot was impactful, however, that it eventually lead to a drastic and courageous career change.

For Catherine, 2004 marked her eleventh year as a corporate finance attorney in New York City, eleven long years of sleepless nights, 18+ hour work days and missing out the day to day 'mommy duties' during her two daughters' childhood. Catherine found herself employing three nannies just to be able to take care of her children while she and her husband evolved in their careers. But it was at that time that the working mother decided that in addition to her already hectic life, that she would enroll in night classes at F.I.T. for jewelry design. So, every Friday and Saturday night, Catherine took what was left of her free time and attended her jewelry design classes at F.I.T.'s Chelsea campus, and that is when her love longtime love for jewelry finally came full circle. "It just felt right. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing." Says Catherine.

The following year, with two years left to go in her jewelry design program at F.I.T, Catherine decided to leave her full-time position in corporate finance to pursue what it was that she felt she should be doing – designing jewelry. Fast forward to 2012 and that is when her change of career paths finally came to fruition and she started Jemily.

Catherine Marion's Jemily is a completely self-funded business with a price point that ranges from $400 to $6,000 and according to the designer, her target market is a confident woman anywhere from 28 – 50 years old who can and chooses to purchase her own jewelry. With a brand specifically targeted at women and being a woman and independent business owner herself, Catherine does not take her responsibility to empowering women lightly.

For those who have struggled to zip up the back of a dress or clasp a necklace for you, Catherine is also thinking of you. With the goal of keeping her clients to be as independent as possible, Catherine keeps this in mind when she is designing her collections. "[Our goal] is to make user friendly jewelry, where you don't have to rely on anybody else to help with trying it on." To wit, all of Jemily's clasps are made so that the client can put it on without the help of a significant other. Nothing empowers women quite like granting them the independence to put on their own jewelry with ease.

Over the last five years, Jemily's classic, feminine designs have landed in over a dozen independently-owned stores nationwide while the sales and collections produced continue to grow. Ironically for the Chicago native, Chicago is the city where the brand experiences the highest volume of sales. Jemily is strictly wholesale and while Catherine designs the jewelry she employs two in-house sales associates to conduct the wholesale relationships and to complete their three-woman show.

Catherine produces around two collections a year and explains that intricate types of architecture and nature are her constant inspirations. On a personal level, Catherine says she prefers using natural, colored stones, which can be seen throughout her collections, despite them often being harder to sell. Regardless, when designing her collections, Catherine always aims to create alluring pieces that have thought and meaning behind them. "I feel it's my job to show things that nature made, [that] God made – to showcase these creations," explains the designer. Catherine fulfills these self assigned duties by using crystals, stones and diamonds from all over the earth to create her pieces. She gets her diamonds from Antwerp, Belgium and has them cut in Israel and makes it a priority to guarantee conflict-free diamonds.

Catherine's love for nature's finest jewels is shown not only in her designs, but through her passion for jewelry making. "I wish I could give it away," says Catherine. "If I broke even, I would be okay." But unfortunately, the cost of jewelry making calls for a price tag that is a bit more expensive than $0. Regardless, it is clear that receiving an income from her business is no comparison to the feeling of finally doing what she loves every single day.

When asked about the future of Jemily, Catherine explains that continuing to expand and create new lines is her number one priority. Catherine's selfless ways and ability to create beautiful, unique pieces for the most confident of women, especially in today's political climate, is most definitely empowering.

The Quick 10

1. What app do you most use?

Ways and Instagram.

2. Briefly describe your morning routine.

First shut alarm off, then head to yoga.

3. Name a business mogul you admire.

John Vogel.

4. What product do you wish you had invented?

Iron.

5. What is your spirit animal?

Black panther.

6. What is your life motto?

I aim to have a wake like my grandmother's, there were so many people that stopped by just to tell of all of the things that she did for them.

7. Name your favorite work day snack.

Popcorn.

8. Every entrepreneur must be what to be successful?

Humble.

9. What’s the most inspiring place you’ve traveled to?

Westminster Abbey.

10. Desert Island. Three things, go.

Wifi, Kindle, Purell.

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Politics

Michael Bloomberg Can’t Handle A Woman With A Voice (aka Elizabeth Warren)

Elizabeth Warren majorly called out "arrogant billionaire" Michael Bloomberg for his history of silencing women through NDAs and closed-door settlement negotiations. Sound familiar? Probably because we already have a president like that. At this point, Bloomberg may just spend the remainder of his (hopefully) ill-fated presidential campaign roasting on a spit over a fire sparked by the righteous anger of women. A lesser punishment than he deserves, if you ask me.


At last night's Democratic debate, Michael Bloomberg could barely stammer out an answer to a question on whether or not he would release any of his former accusers from their nondisclosure agreements. His unsatisfactory response was basically a halting list of what he has done for certain nondescript women in his time at City Hall and within his own company.

But that certainly wasn't enough for Elizabeth Warren, nor should it be, who perfectly rephrased his defense as, "I've been nice to some women." Michael Bloomberg is basically that weird, problematic Uncle that claims he can't be racist, "Because I have a Black friend." In a society where power is almost always in the hands of straight, white, cisgendered, men being "nice" to a lucky few is in no way a defense for benefiting from and building upon the systematic silencing of all marginalized communities, let alone women. Stop and frisk, anybody?

Here is a brief clip of the Warren v. Bloomberg exchange, which I highly recommend. It is absolutely (and hilariously) savage.

But let's talk about the deeper issues at hand here (other than Warren being an eloquent badass).

Michael Bloomberg has been sued multiple times, yet each time he was able to snake his way out of the problem with the help of his greatest and only superpower: cold, hard cash. Each time these allegations have come up, in Warren's words, he throws "a chunk of money at the table" and "forces the woman to wear a muzzle for the rest of her life."

As reported by Claire Lampen of The Cut, here are just a few of his prior indiscretions.

  • Pregnancy discrimination—Bloomberg reportedly told a former employee of his to "kill it," in reference to her developing fetus.
  • Sexual harassment—You could literally write a book on this subject (someone did), but for the sake of brevity...
"I'd like to do that piece of meat" - Michael Bloomberg in reference to various women at his company.
  • Undermining #MeToo—Not only did he defend the accused, but he went on the disparage accusers every step of the way.
  • Defaming transgender people—Though he claims to support trans rights, he has also been qupted multiple times as referring to trans women as "some guy wearing a dress."
Yeah... That's not a winning formula for me, Mike.

Furthermore, Warren points out the simple fact that if, as Bloomberg claims, these instances were simply big misunderstandings (He was just joking around!) then why go to all the trouble to cover them up? Does Michael Bloomberg think women can't take a joke? Or can we only surmise that the truth of these events are far darker and dirtier than we could even imagine?

Certain commentators have called Elizabeth Warren's debate presence "agressive," especially in regards to this instance but also continually throughout her entire campaign. If asking poignant questions to known abusers who are seeking to further their own political power is considered "aggressive," then I am here for it. Bring on the aggressive women, please and thank you.

Calling a woman aggressive for being confidant and direct is a gendered complaint. You don't see anyone whining that Bernie is "aggressive" when he goes off on a screaming tangent. Also, have you seen our president? He's basically the poster boy for political temper tantrums. But still, it's Warren that is deemed "aggressive," for honing in on the exact issues that need to be considered in this upcoming election.

This type of derisory label is another aspect of how our society silences women—much like Bloomberg and his NDAs. Because "silencing" is more than just putting a "muzzle" on someone. It's refusing to listen to a person's cries for help. It's disregarding what a woman has to say, because she's too "aggressive." It's taking away someone's power by refusing to truly hear their side of the story. Because if you aren't listening, responding, or even just respecting someone's words, they may well have said nothing at all.

"Silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard." - Renecca Solnit

Nondiscolusure agreements are a legal gag for people who have experienced harassment and abuse at the hands of those above them.

Gretchen Carlson, possibly the most famous person subject to an NDA, is one of these people. Her story is so well-known that it has even been immortalized on film, in 2019's Bombshell. Yet she is still forced to maintain her silence. She cannot tell her side of the story even when Hollywood can. She was cajoled into her current position after facing harassment in her workplace. She didn't have the power then to do more than accept her fate. And now, she doesn't have the power to tell her story.

She was, and still is being, silenced.

After her experiences, Carlson was moved to fight for all women to have the power over their truths. In a recent op-ed for the New York Times she declared: "I want my voice back. I want it back for me, and for all those silenced by forced arbitration and NDAs."

Carlson may still be tied to her NDA, but there are those who go a different route. Celeste Headlee, who wrote an op-ed on SWAAY about her experience, chose to break her nondisclosure agreement. Though doing so undoubtedly opened her up to numerous legal ramifications, she knew that she could no longer "sign away [her] right to justice."

Because that is what an NDA is all about, signing away a person's right to justice. Their story is their justice. Their NDA is a lock and key. Headlee may have broken through that lock, but she must face the consequences.

Neither Carlson nor Headlee are any less brave for how they have handled their journeys. They are both actively working to shift the cultural and political norms that led them here, and their work will, with hope and time, lead to real change. But they are just two drops in an ocean of women who are held hostage by their nondisclosure agreements, by men like Michael Bloomberg, and by a society that would rather silence them than let truth and justice be had.